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|My Lady Ludlow||Elizabeth Gaskell|
|Page 2 of 8||
But now let us go back to the terrace-door, and the footman sitting in the antechamber.
One morning we heard a parleying, which rose to such a vehemence, and lasted for so long, that my lady had to ring her hand-bell twice before the footman heard it.
"What is the matter, John?" asked she, when he entered,
"A little boy, my lady, who says he comes from Mr. Horner, and must see your ladyship. Impudent little lad!" (This last to himself.)
"What does he want?"
"That's just what I have asked him, my lady, but he won't tell me, please your ladyship."
"It is, probably, some message from Mr. Horner," said Lady Ludlow, with just a shade of annoyance in her manner; for it was against all etiquette to send a message to her, and by such a messenger too!
"No! please your ladyship, I asked him if he had any message, and he said no, he had none; but he must see your ladyship for all that."
"You had better show him in then, without more words," said her ladyship, quietly, but still, as I have said, rather annoyed.
As if in mockery of the humble visitor, the footman threw open both battants of the door, and in the opening there stood a lithe, wiry lad, with a thick head of hair, standing out in every direction, as if stirred by some electrical current, a short, brown face, red now from affright and excitement, wide, resolute mouth, and bright, deep-set eyes, which glanced keenly and rapidly round the room, as if taking in everything (and all was new and strange), to be thought and puzzled over at some future time. He knew enough of manners not to speak first to one above him in rank, or else he was afraid.
"What do you want with me?" asked my lady; in so gentle a tone that it seemed to surprise and stun him.
"An't please your ladyship?" said he, as if he had been deaf.
"You come from Mr. Horner's: why do you want to see me?" again asked she, a little more loudly.
"An't please your ladyship, Mr. Horner was sent for all on a sudden to Warwick this morning."
His face began to work; but he felt it, and closed his lips into a resolute form.
"And he went off all on a sudden like."
"And he left a note for your ladyship with me, your ladyship."
"Is that all? You might have given it to the footman."
"Please your ladyship, I've clean gone and lost it."
He never took his eyes off her face. If he had not kept his look fixed, he would have burst out crying.
"That was very careless," said my lady gently. "But I am sure you are very sorry for it. You had better try and find it; it may have been of consequence.
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